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Apple files patent for iPhone friendly optical stylus

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Apple files patent for iPhone friendly optical stylus
As surprising as it may seem, Apple is apparently working on a stylus, of all things; a stylus that is meant to work with the company's portable devices, such as the iPhone. How do we know? Well, Apple has filed a patent application for such an accessory, meaning that it might materialize one day making those Draw Something sessions a lot more enjoyable.

However, the stylus in question is not just a dumb, pointy stick. The patent describes it as an "optical stylus", meaning that it might work in a way similar to how optical computer mice "see" the surface underneath them with the help of a tiny image sensor. Additionally, the to-be-patented accessory will detect how hard it is being pushed against the surface thanks to a pressure sensor. The data captured by the stylus will then be transmitted to a "host device", presumably the iPhone or iPad it is paired with. 

What makes the patent even more interesting is that seeing Apple considering stylus support for its handsets goes against the company's traditions. While unveiling the very first iPhone, Steve Jobs actually made fun of the accessory by rhetorically asking: "Who wants a stylus?". However, thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Note, the stylus is now making a comeback, and if the trend catches on, it would make perfect sense for Apple to respond to the demand for such an accessory. On the other hand, we have seen plenty of cool Apple patents that have yet to end up in a consumer device, so the optical stylus might not hit the market anytime soon.

What do you guys think? Would you ever need a stylus for your iPhone or iPad, or your fingers will do just fine? Let us know what you think by dropping a comment.

source: USPTO via Engadget

101 Comments
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posted on 24 May 2012, 08:22 12

1. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


"It's like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. " - Steve Jobs

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:24 5

3. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


Steve Jobs is dead.

Tim Cook is the new CEO.

If Apple consumers are asking for something, allow Apple to come to those demands. Jobs was a great man, but the antenna gate showed that he may not have always had his ears open...something that bothered me a bit. If this is what consumers want, I'm glad Apple is answering...

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:25 10

4. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Steve Jobs is dead? When did that happen?

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:31 6

8. hepresearch (unregistered)


I was just asking myself the same question about Elvis...

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:36 4

12. GuiltyBystander (Posts: 199; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Elvis might be dead, but his voice will live forever ;)

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:34 1

32. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


Hey, I just saw on the National Enquirer the Steve Jobs was spotted at a 711 in the South somewhere...lol

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:30 5

6. KingShango (Posts: 89; Member since: 16 May 2012)


Agreed. Jobs was innovative certainly had a vision but that doesn't mean he was always right. The popularity of Android shows that there's more than one way to do things.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:34 3

10. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


iXactly.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:38 3

13. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


I'm just saying...if Apple had come up with this "intelligent stylus" three years ago, we'd hear nothing but yells of, "Samsung copies!!!!" when the Galaxy Note came out.

But, with the situation reversed, what iFan do you suppose will come to this story and admit Apple is now copying Samsung? (I think some might, but not most)

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:01

18. hepresearch (unregistered)


Already happening even without the situation being reversed. Case-in-point: comment #16... and so it begins!

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:03 1

69. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


Umm Samsung doesn't have an intelligent stylus so you have no point

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:15 4

70. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


apple doesnt have intelligent trolls, so you have no point.

posted on 24 May 2012, 17:27 1

78. gallitoking (Posts: 4680; Member since: 17 May 2011)


right because Apple doesnt call them trolls..

posted on 25 May 2012, 07:54 2

91. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


do you prefer, sheep, troll, or moron?

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:17 1

72. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


No, no. Of course not. Not inside the RDF. What color is the sky in there, where Apple just came up with this idea of a stylus that does more than just replace a fingertap on the screen out of thin air?

posted on 25 May 2012, 07:53 2

90. Fallout09 (Posts: 412; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


No, but HTC did. Once again.... Apple never copies anything.

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:29 2

23. SkOne (Posts: 87; Member since: 02 May 2012)


Chuck Norris.......ENOUGH SAID.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:24 7

2. GuiltyBystander (Posts: 199; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Ridiculous.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:30 2

5. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


Optical Stylus my a**. How is this different from light pen?

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:30 4

7. superguy (Posts: 269; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


Waiting for Samsung to file a law suit in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:14

28. appleDOESNT.com (Posts: 416; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


Why? Sammy didn't invent that either..

posted on 24 May 2012, 21:15 3

88. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Apple didn't invent rectangles, grids of icons, touchscreens, multi-touch, popup menus to choose default actions when clicking a link, or smartphones in general, but that doesn't stop them suing.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:32

9. mercorp (Posts: 967; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)


Samsung will soon file a lawsuit.
Will the iphone 5 come with a 5.5 inch screen?Hope so.

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:35 6

11. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1301; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


iPhone?..iPad?.....no its a iNote

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:14

51. good2great (Posts: 1039; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


i would laugh myself to death if they create an iNote device...hahaha

good one!

+1

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:39 2

14. 9_HeLLs_oF_DrOid (Posts: 122; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


Lol...Apple is one hell of a company. XD

posted on 25 May 2012, 17:05

99. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6131; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Apple is ONE of the most hated company

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:40 5

15. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


waiting for taco to come out and start yelling that samsung copied apple's "obvious" stylus design and should be sued!

posted on 24 May 2012, 08:41

16. QinEmpire (Posts: 145; Member since: 16 May 2012)


Good job for Apple patenting it or else Samsung/Google will once again rip it shameless and claim credits.

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:00 2

17. hepresearch (unregistered)


We've already got one!

(I told them 'we've already got one'... chuckle chuckle...)

=8-P

posted on 25 May 2012, 10:29

97. parkwaydr (Posts: 572; Member since: 07 Sep 2011)


Galaxy note has one already, its been out for quite awhile. And is very popular.

So who's shamelessly copying now?

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:10 5

19. bragzter (Posts: 44; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)


LOL. Apple is a joke. You hated it back in 2007, but now that Samsung made it beautiful again (NB. again, because the stylus was around before 2007 on Nokias and Windows Mobile devices). Now they want to patent it, just like the way the patented the rectangle and called it a tablet. Lol.

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:19 2

20. andro. (Posts: 1935; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Hmm Apple the way again with innovations like the s pen.....oh wait....! With iphone 5 changes in renders increasing making the iphone looks extremely similar to android phones,ios beginning to use android features like drop down notifications and widgets and apple now trying their own galaxy note then ifans claims of everyone copying apple has become even funnier

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:20 4

21. Sniggly (Posts: 6695; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


So after seeing how well aftermarket styluses sell for iPhones and iPads, and after seeing the success of the Galaxy Note, Apple starts working on a stylus.

Nice "innovative" move there, Apple. Will it be called the iTouch stylus perhaps? Then what will ignorant customers call the iPod Touch?

Now don't get me wrong, if Apple makes an official stylus for their phones it'll be nice. I'm just bracing for both Apple and their braying jackasses of followers to claim Apple did it first, made it popular or some other bulls**t.

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:30 2

30. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


the iStyle!

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:37 2

33. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


The iLus.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:20 1

38. gallitoking (Posts: 4680; Member since: 17 May 2011)


thats whats is wrong with you Sniggly.. you assume things... unless you hear from an apple consumer about the stylus pen. just limtit your comments to the article and dont provoke. cuz... we could eliminate all tablets... like we done so far

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:23 4

39. frydaexiii (Posts: 1176; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


Yes, with your oversized iPod that can't do anything practical, whooooo scary *wriggles arms*

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:29 3

41. Sniggly (Posts: 6695; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Okay, despite the fact that your English is more broken than usual today, I think I understand the part about "eliminating" tablets, which I take to mean that you think the iPad dominates the tablet market.

Unfortunately for you, Android has been chipping away at tablet market share, to the point where Apple has gone from controlling 90 percent of the market to like 65 percent. That's almost a third of its market share gone in two years. Yep, that's a true example of "eliminating" the competition.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:54 1

47. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


and thats only because of a spike in the last 2 months. they were at just over 50% coming out of Q1 and projected by many to be over taken by May had the sales trend continued. Luckily for our trolls, apple had a sales surge.

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:09 2

50. gallitoking (Posts: 4680; Member since: 17 May 2011)


the only reason is tha Android is gaining tablet market share is because they release $199 tablets that are worht just that... they dont sell expensive tablets... or better yet anything bigger that 7 inches... pray that Apple doesnt relesase a 6.9999 tablet because those cheap 7 inchers will collect dust along those 10.1 ..

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:29 2

54. tedkord (Posts: 4275; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Why does that sound familiar? Oh, that's right, it's what the Apple faithful were saying 4 years ago about smartphones. How's that working out for ya?

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:33 1

57. gallitoking (Posts: 4680; Member since: 17 May 2011)


by changing the subject means that you didnt had a intelligent comeback right?..

posted on 25 May 2012, 08:58

94. elandrumiii (Posts: 109; Member since: 20 Mar 2010)


Hows that working 3 tablets made and just the #gs, 4, 4S against an army of andriod phones mads at multitude of prices and I would say Apple is doing really good even though it is a lock down device. And yes wether its 50% or 80% they still own the tablet market with a one size one type of tablet. So we can all hate and call then evil it doesnt change the facts. And if Samsung or HTC or whoever didnt patent their desgn of a stylus and Apple gets there first that is called busines just like Goog buying Moto for the patents and we all know thats the reason. So come on with the childish mean and ignorant comments.

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:16 2

71. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


better to sell tablets at 199 that are "worth that", then at 599 with the same components as the 199 tablets. that would make it "not worth it".

woops.

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:36 1

75. gallitoking (Posts: 4680; Member since: 17 May 2011)


well good luck with your 199 tablet.. while I enjoy my 599 tablet... and we will see who will shop for another tablet in the future...
woops.... keep that radio shack tablet catalog handy...

posted on 25 May 2012, 06:07 3

89. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7354; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I'm sure you will because you're going to be waiting in line for two days for "The Newer iPad" next year so your comment is invalid.

posted on 25 May 2012, 07:56 1

92. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol, I'll take that bet gallito. :) Hmm.. ill take one of those handy dandy Tegra 3 tablets that are coming out around the 200 mark.

Just because its priced lower doesnt mean its made of cheaper components, it just means your paying less for it.

I dont know why you itroll tards think that if you pay more for it, it must be better. that just means your paying more for it and nothing else.. lol

posted on 25 May 2012, 17:10

100. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6131; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


and u keep assuming things that Android have copy Apple with the STYLIST

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:28 1

22. theoak (Posts: 320; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


I would love the ability to "write" notes versus trying to type.

I would be game for a stylus that would let me rest my hand on the screen, and use the pen at the same time.

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:35 2

24. Sniggly (Posts: 6695; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


You can already do the first on the Galaxy Note phone, and I'm sure you'll have that on the Note 10.1 when it comes out.

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:55 3

26. protozeloz (Posts: 5369; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


its already working on the galaxy note and the Galaxy note tab... if I'm not mistaken even on the HTC flyer and both are pressure sensitive (like when you draw if you press harder ink comes darker and stuff ) THE NEXT BIG THING is already here. you should read reviews more often

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:31 2

31. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


yea, that existed in windows 5.xx and palm way back in the old days.

its like fashion. whats old is new again.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:02 1

34. theoak (Posts: 320; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


Right, so the article is about a stylus on an Apple device.

I get other devices can.

I am not sure if an Apple device can and it would be nice if it could without the device interpreting the hand touch (versus the pen) touch as input. That is all I was saying.

Perhaps that is where the pen feedback would come from. This way the pen and iDevice would "know" when the pen was no longer in use and when to interpret touches from other areas as input again.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:19 2

36. Sniggly (Posts: 6695; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Okay, so basically, even though your original comment made no indication that you were hoping for an iDevice to do what you were describing, you are annoyed with us for pointing out that what you were asking for at least partially exists already with Apple's competitors?

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:49 1

46. protozeloz (Posts: 5369; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


it already works like that.... again check the galaxy note

posted on 24 May 2012, 09:40 1

25. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)


Innovation - The process of seeing the competition's ideas and either purchasing them, copying and changing it around or just filing and paying off the patent office so you can sue in the future because in reality you really aren't that innovative at all.

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:00 2

27. protozeloz (Posts: 5369; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


oh wait.... so stylus is not dead? after that kick starter and all the stylus devices and the claims it was dead now its something viable

I win again

posted on 24 May 2012, 10:27 3

29. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6131; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Looks like Apple is going to do another law suit. Samsung already have the S STYLIST pen for the NOTE. And going to use it on their other Galaxy DEVICE. This is just useless. PATENT for a STYLIST? You can use that already

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:20 4

37. frydaexiii (Posts: 1176; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


Anyone else notice a trend here?

When Samsung or Google wants to "steal" Apple's tech, they just go all out and make it. (S Voice and according to taco, the whole Android interface.)

But when Apple wants to steal, they patent the idea without any prototype whatsoever (Stylus, Face Unlock)? Except maybe for the notification bar, since they didn't bother to even change any part of it.

Anyway, this idea is retarded. If it's an optical stylus like a mouse, then it would require a power source, where the hell do they find batteries so small? Wait for one of the competitors to create it and then steal it? Or will there be a tiny wire stuck to the stylus?

So the iFans who have been saying Android has been piggybacking off iOS's success, then WTF is this? Say a stylus is wrong ad when it sells you patent one with a practically impossible method? Total bull...

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